AskDefine | Define endocrine

Dictionary Definition

endocrine adj : of or belonging to endocrine glands or their secretions; "endocrine system" [syn: endocrinal] [ant: exocrine]


1 the secretion of an endocrine gland that is transmitted by the blood to the tissue on which it has a specific effect [syn: hormone, internal secretion]
2 any of the glands of the endocrine system that secrete hormones directly into the bloodstream [syn: endocrine gland, ductless gland]

User Contributed Dictionary



  • a US /ˈɛnd.oʊ.krɪn/


  1. Producing internal secretions that are transported around the body by the bloodstream.
  2. Pertaining to the endocrine glands or their secretions.

See also


  1. The secretion of an endocrine gland.
  2. An endocrine gland.



  1. Feminine plural form of endocrino

Extensive Definition

The endocrine system is an integrated system of small organs that involve the release of extracellular signaling molecules known as hormones. The endocrine system is instrumental in regulating metabolism, growth, development and puberty, tissue function, and also plays a part in determining mood. The field of medicine that deals with disorders of endocrine glands is endocrinology, a branch of the wider field of internal medicine.


The Endocrine system is an information signal system much like the nervous system. However, the nervous system uses nerves to conduct information, whereas the endocrine system mainly uses blood vessels as information channels. Glands located in many regions of the body release into the bloodstream specific chemical messengers called hormones. Hormones regulate the many and varied functions of an organism, e.g., mood, growth and development, tissue function, and metabolism, as well as sending messages and acting on them.

Types of signaling

The typical mode of cell signaling in the endocrine system is endocrine signaling. However, there are also other modes, i.e., paracrine, autocrine, and neuroendocrine signaling . Purely neurocrine signaling between neurons, on the other hand, belongs completely to the nervous system.


A number of glands that signal each other in sequence is usually referred to as an axis, for example the Hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis.
Typical endocrine glands are the pituitary, thyroid, and adrenal glands. Features of endocrine glands are, in general, their ductless nature, their vascularity, and usually the presence of intracellular vacuoles or granules storing their hormones. In contrast exocrine glands such as salivary glands, sweat glands, and glands within the gastrointestinal tract tend to be much less vascular and have ducts or a hollow lumen.


Other signaling can target the same cell.


Paracrine signaling is where the target cell is nearby.


Juxtacrine signals are transmitted along cell membranes via protein or lipid components integral to the membrane and are capable of affecting either the emitting cell or cells immediately adjacent.

Role in disease

Diseases of the endocrine system are common, including diseases such as diabetes mellitus, thyroid disease, and obesity. Endocrine disease is characterised by dysregulated hormone release (a productive Pituitary adenoma), inappropriate response to signalling (Hypothyroidism), lack or destruction of a gland (Diabetes mellitus type 1, diminished erythropoiesis in Chronic renal failure), or structural enlargement in a critical site such as the neck (Toxic multinodular goitre). Hypofunction of endocrine glands can occur as result of loss of reserve, hyposecretion, agenesis, atrophy, or active destruction. Hyperfunction can occur as result of hypersecretion, loss of suppression, hyperplastic, or neoplastic change, or hyperstimulation.
Endocrinopathies are classified as primary, secondary, or tertiary. Primary endocrine disease inhibits the action of downstream glands. Tertiary endocrine disease is associated with dysfunction of the hypothalamus and its releasing hormones.
Cancer can occur in endocrine glands, such as the thyroid, and hormones have been implicated in signalling distant tissues to proliferate, for example the Estrogen receptor has been shown to be involved in certain breast cancers. Endocrine, Paracrine, and autocrine signalling have all been implicated in proliferation, one of the required steps of oncogenesis.

Table of endocrine glands and secreted hormones

This is a table of the glands of the endocrine system, and their secreted hormones


Pineal body

Pituitary gland (hypophysis)

Anterior pituitary lobe (adenohypophysis)

Posterior pituitary lobe (neurohypophysis)

Oxytocin and Anti-Diuretic Hormone are not secreted in the posterior lobe, merely stored.


endocrine in Arabic: جهاز غدد صماء
endocrine in Bosnian: Endokrini sistem
endocrine in Bulgarian: Ендокринна система
endocrine in Catalan: Sistema endocrí
endocrine in Czech: Soustava žláz s vnitřní sekrecí
endocrine in Danish: Endokrine system
endocrine in German: Endokrines System
endocrine in Spanish: Sistema endocrino
endocrine in Esperanto: Endokrina sistemo
endocrine in Basque: Sistema endokrino
endocrine in French: Système endocrinien
endocrine in Indonesian: Sistem endokrin
endocrine in Icelandic: Innkirtlakerfið
endocrine in Italian: Sistema endocrino
endocrine in Hebrew: המערכת האנדוקרינית
endocrine in Latvian: Endokrīnā sistēma
endocrine in Lithuanian: Endokrininė sistema
endocrine in Hungarian: Belső elválasztású mirigyek
endocrine in Macedonian: Ендокрин систем
endocrine in Norwegian: Det endokrine system
endocrine in Dutch: Endocrien systeem
endocrine in Japanese: 内分泌器
endocrine in Polish: Układ hormonalny
endocrine in Portuguese: Sistema endócrino
endocrine in Russian: Эндокринная система
endocrine in Simple English: Endocrine system
endocrine in Slovak: Endokrinná sústava
endocrine in Slovenian: Endokrini sistem
endocrine in Serbian: Ендокрини систем
endocrine in Finnish: Umpieritysjärjestelmä
endocrine in Swedish: Endokrina systemet
endocrine in Thai: ต่อมหมวกไต
endocrine in Turkish: Endokrin sistem
endocrine in Chinese: 內分泌系統
endocrine in Tagalog: Sistemang endokrin

Synonyms, Antonyms and Related Words

adrenal, autacoid, bile, chalone, digestive secretion, eccrine, exocrine, gall, gastric juice, glandular, glandulous, gonadal, holocrine, hormone, humoral, intestinal juice, luteal, merocrine, mucus, ovarian, pancreatic, pancreatic juice, prostatic, prostatic fluid, rheum, salivary secretion, semen, sperm, splenetic, tears, thymic, thyroidal, thyroxin
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